Friday, September 26, 2008

Who Won the First Debate? Roundup of Reactions

Now the that the first debate is in the books, the natural question to ask is "Who won?" The answer is complex because it depends on who you ask--so make sure you are asking the people that matter.

Overall, if you read some of the more conservative sites, they of course are calling it for McCain as a slam-dunk. Sites in the middle are less convinced. I'm sure the folks over at Kos and the like have already called the election for Obama--but they did that months ago, anyway.

So as you read through the reactions below, try to remember the following. There is really only one group of people whose reactions to this debate matter--undecided voters. Obamacrats are going to declare Obama won and they aren't changing their vote. Republicans (then need a funky name like Obama followers do) will give a dozens reasons why McCain won and will of course still be voting for him. All that matters is what truly undecided people felt after watching the performances. That's a hard thing to judge with biased polls, biased media, and spin by both parties. But it is the only really important consequence of tonight's debate.

That said, he's a roundup of results from around the web:
Ann Althouse continues to try to be neutral.

From the comments at Hedgehog, you'd have thought Obama ran from the stage and hid in the corner. They are phenomenal at looking at poll internals over there but the echo chamber can get a little deafening.

Ed Morrissey thought both did better than expected but in the end declares it a clear win for McCain.

The conclusion by Hugh Hewitt is expected (McCain won easily), but his live scorecard of the questions is more interesting.

The Corner literally has dozens of posts...there's no way I can link them all. Notable reactions are from Ramesh Ponnuru, who thought McCain won--and he is usually pretty pessimistic about Republican performances this year. On the other hand Michael Graham thought that while McCain won on a few points he was suppose to--so by not utterly collapsing or making any huge gaffes, Obama did all he needed to do and more.

During the debate, McCain corrected Obama on what Kissenger said--and after the debate Kissenger hit Obama hard (emphasis mine):
Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.
Glenn Reynolds wasn't impressed with either of them for the most part. He was impressed, however, how fast the McCain camp came out with this ad.

It was released before the debate was over. And many people have noted how many times Obama said McCain was correct. That can be an approach when debating, but it does open yourself up for ads like the above.
There are many more reactions, of course, and I'll be posting about the more interesting ones over the next couple of days.

As far as polling go, nothing scientific yet so the results are all trash. A poll at the Drudge Report has McCain 70%, Obama 28% in terms of who won. But over at CNN, the results are almost exactly the opposite. It will be a while--remember, most polls are 3-day tracking polls, before any real polls can show movement. And as always be wary of polls that claim 14% of the population switched party affiliation after the debate or that the party split is now 50%D/30%R/20%I. Everyone will be trying to spin the results from tonight and remember that most media is biased towards Obama.

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